Consumers search for a wide variety of things: products, instructions, funny YouTube videos. But beyond global and national searches, consumers are looking for things close to home. In fact, 46% of searches on Google are seeking local information. Local searches make up a huge chunk of what consumers are looking for and yet 56% of local businesses haven’t claimed their Google My Business listing. What gives?
Managing your company’s local search presence can be time-consuming and laborious, but consumers are clearly looking for local stores, products, and services so your business needs to be on the map (literally).
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At iPullRank, we work with several national companies with local outposts and have helped them not only consolidate their local divisions on their websites but have helped them claim and manage their local listings as well.
Local SEO is a strategic and tactical endeavor (like all facets of search) but there are tips and tricks to streamline the process and meet your customers on the SERPs so they can walk through your doors. Check out these 20 tips and tricks to claim, manage and optimize your local search presence.
1. Start with Accurate Information
Local search results are in the business of information. Whether it’s the right phone number or business hours, Google, Bing Places, and Yelp (to name a few) want to provide searchers with the right information for your listing. If information is inaccurate or out-of-date, they are less likely to show searchers your listing. [Google My Business Help]
2. Keep Spotless Records
This goes to the first tip. If you’re a business with multiple locations it is crucial to keep track of your listings and any operational changes to your locations. Try our Location/Business Information Spreadsheet to keep track of location details and business listings.
3. Verify Your Business – the Right Way
Many times, your business is already listed on the search engines and you need to claim and verify ownership. Verification can be a headache, so be sure to choose the right verification method. You can verify by:
- Verify with Google Search Console
- Bulk Verification (10+ Listings)
4. Distance & Proximity Are Key Factors
In local search, the distance and proximity of your business to where a person is searching from is key. While you can not control where people search, you can control the information search engines have to determine where your business is located. This includes providing a verified address and geographical coordinates.
72% of consumers, who search for local businesses, end up visiting stores within five miles, so ensuring your location is accurate could mean the difference between an in-person visit or a new search.
5. Consistency is Key
For local listings consistency of information is key. The NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) in your listing should match the NAP on your website/landing page.
6. Many other Portals Leverage Google My Business
Google is still king and in local search, many other engines leverage GMB information to either verify or populate their information. It is also useful to have GMB as the control of which you review all other search engines and portals’ information.
7. Local Search is Mobile-Centric
Searchers are using mobile and they are using it to find your business. It is crucial that not only is your business information available on platforms but that your site is mobile-friendly. Searchers looking on their mobile device may also visit your site and you want the experience to be optimal.
8. Go Niche
While Google My Business, Bing Places, and Yelp are the dominant local search engines, be sure to do your research and find the more niche directories and engines in your industry. Here are a few:
Restaurants / Hospitality
Travel / Trips
9. Add a Map Interface to your Website
If your business has multiple locations in a particular city or region, or just local chains around the nation, a map interface or Store Locator page can help your customers tremendously and provide them quick and accessible information to get to your store. Google Maps has a Store Locator Solution to add your map to your website.
10. Local Searches Lead to Foot Traffic, So Ensure Information is Up-To-Date
According to Think With Google, 76% of people who conduct a local mobile search visit a business within 24 hours. If your business is not listed, you are missing out on guaranteed foot traffic. Most searchers are looking for a business in their current proximity, so having the correct location and hours of operation are key.
Bonus: If your business is hard to find, add notes in your listings so you’re not missing out on foot traffic.
11. Each Location Should Have a Separate Landing Page
For companies with multiple locations and/or a store locator page, each location should have its own landing page. Local landing pages are perfect to rank for hyperlocal keywords such as [Your Business] + [City]. They can also serve as the central source of truth on your locations. Marketing managers or agencies that are managing your local search can leverage the information on local landing pages.
12. Invest in Citation Auditing and Reclamation
Local search engines get information from various sources (submissions, claiming, map, etc). This can cause multiple and incorrect citations. To manage your local search presence, a business should do a quarterly or bi-annual audit and reclamation to ensure that their citations and listings are correct and consumers are getting an accurate picture of their business.
13. Maximize Ratings & Reviews
According to BrightLocal, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. We’ve written about how to make bad reviews work for you, but keep in mind how reviews are impacting your local foot traffic.
Maximize good reviews by responding with coupons and offers. Respond to bad reviews with good faith and correct of the problem.
14. Photos Help Searchers Visualize Your Business
60% of consumers say local search results with good images capture their attention and push them towards a decision. Having high-quality photos of your business can help consumers determine whether to patronize. Have a wide variety of shots including ‘front of the business’ and storefront shots, interior shots, and product shots. Here are photo guidelines from GMB.
Check out BrightLocal’s Google My Business Photos: The Ultimate Guide to Looking Good Online for more tips on photos.
Also be sure to encourage customers to take pictures and post to social media, as these photos can help promote your business visually as well.
15. Bulk Upload
If your company has multiple locations, bulk upload is your friend. Download the spreadsheet from GMB and populate it with information for all of your locations. This should be a central document that is regularly audited and reconciled to keep all of your GMB listings up-to-date.
16. Track All Keyword Variations
Local keyword research is not much different than standard keyword research. However, SEOs should keep in mind the number of ways consumers are searching for local results. City, state and neighborhood variations should be included as modifiers as well as location-related queries such as “near me”, “in my neighborhood”, “in my area”, “in [city]”, etc.
17. Use Local Schema
Schema is your friend and, where it makes sense, businesses should include this structured data on their website to give engines more context about their content. Schema.org has tons of markup specific to Place, Local Business, Restaurants. You can also use Google’s Structured Data Helper tool to create and implement the right data for your information.
18. Use GPS Location Targeting
67% of consumers prefer businesses whose apps or mobile sites target their location. (Think with Google) Using geo-targeting on your website, mobile site or app removes extra work for your customers and gives them the location information they are looking for instantaneously. It provides a seamless customer experience that allows them to continue on their path to conversion.
19. Connect to Social Media
With more than 50 million Facebook Business pages and 1.6 billion people connected to small businesses on Facebook, social media is a powerful tool for local search. According to Facebook, people and businesses exchange more than 10 billion messages per month. Connecting your local listing to your social media profiles can help potential and existing customers reach you for research or customer service questions.
20. Have a Holiday/Special Hours Game Plan
Mobile searches for “store hours” are the highest on Christmas day. The holiday season is a high trafficked time and consumers are searching for business information including hours of operation, phone numbers, and deals. Having a game plan leading to the holiday season is key for businesses and marketing managers should have separate spreadsheets with holiday business information.
Your Customers Are Local, Why Aren’t You?
For businesses with brick and mortar operations being present on local search is critical. Consumers are searching locally and on mobile and your listings should provide them with the best and most accurate information so they can go from searching to shopping.
What tips and tricks do you use to manage your local search presence?